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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with Staffing Agency to Resolve Claims of Employment Discrimination

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it secured a settlement agreement with California staffing agency Selective Personnel Inc. (SPI). The agreement resolves the department’s determination that SPI’s predecessor business entity, South Bay Safety (SBS), violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by regularly discriminating against non-U.S. citizens when checking their permission to work in the United States. 

“Employers cannot demand specific documents from workers because of their citizenship status when checking their permission to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting workers from discriminatory practices that create unnecessary barriers to employment.”

After conducting an investigation, the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) concluded that, between at least September 2020 and at least October 2022, SBS required that non-U.S. citizens present specific types of documentation reflecting their immigration status to prove their permission to work. In contrast, U.S. citizens could present any acceptable document of their choosing. Based on its investigation, IER concluded that SPI was a successor in interest to SBS, and liable for the violations that IER found.

Under the settlement, SPI will pay civil penalties to the United States, train its employees on the INA’s requirements, revise its employment policies and be subject to departmental monitoring. 

U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, those granted asylum, refugees and other non-U.S. citizens with permission to work may legally work in the United States if they can prove their identity and permission to work. Federal law allows all workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to prove their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship status, immigration status or national origin. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for specific or unnecessary documents because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. Employers must allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the worker.

IER is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices and retaliation and intimidation.   

Find more information on how employers can avoid discrimination when verifying someone’s permission to work on IER’s website. Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a live webinar or watch an on-demand presentation; email or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Sign up for email updates from IER.

Updated June 17, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-771